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The Rebbe’s Room, Holy Of Holies
By Shlomo HaYitzchak

On the threshold before the Rebbe’s room stood the Chassidim, each like the Kohen Gadol before entering the Holy of Holies. In connection with the sidra’s description of the Mishkan, Beis Moshiach presents a selection of stories describing the experience of Chassidim in — and in preparation for — yechidus.

Gan Eden Ha’Tachton and Gan Eden Ha’Elyon
“I heard from the elder Chassidim,” related the Rebbe Rayatz, “that the room before the yechidus room was called Gan Eden HaTachton [the lower Gan Eden] and that the yechidus room was called Gan Eden HaElyon [the upper Gan Eden]. If you would ask where someone was, they would answer, ‘He is in Gan Eden HaTachton.’”

Before a Chassid entered [the Rebbe’s room] for yechidus, he would resolve that he would no longer want what he desired. That is not to say that he would resolve to do away with forbidden desires, because that which is forbidden is forbidden. Rather, he would resolve to not want at all – whatever the heart desires, even permissible things.

(Sichos Chag HaPurim 5688)


The Four Cubits of the Rebbe are the Four Cubits of Hashem
Once, when the tzaddik and Chassid, R’ Hillel, had a yechidus with the Rebbe, the Tzemach Tzedek, the Rebbe entered a profound state of dveikus (deep meditation of G-d). “R’ Hillel would say,” related R’ Gershon Dov, “that in order to see, and thank G-d, to feel this dveikus, it was worth walking to the Rebbe ten times on foot. We, the young men,” R’ Gershon Dov continued, “under the tutelage of R’ Hillel, lived for many months with this statement. The wholeheartedness with which it was said gave us chayus in serving Hashem.”

“The Rebbe’s dveikus,” R’ Hillel told us, “elevated me and put me in four completely different cubits. The four cubits of the Rebbe are the four cubits of Hashem. From the day the Beis HaMikdash was destroyed, Hashem has nothing in His world except for the four cubits of halacha, and in these four cubits are the same giluyim (revelations) that were in the Beis HaMikdash.”

(Likkutei Dibburim, Vol. 2, p. 210)


The Home and Temple of the Alter Rebbe
Here is a description from Shimon the Heretic who spent some time with the Alter Rebbe and his talmidim. It describes the Rebbe’s home, and how the Chassidim related to it, from his perspective:

The heichal (temple), which is how the Chassidim refer to the Rebbe’s home, stands in a large and spacious courtyard. The estate is comprised of several buildings, as well as rows of trees and a vegetable garden. The heichal itself is a house about 25 cubits by 12 cubits. It has an attic twenty cubits long and the width of the house. The house is divided into two apartments separated by an anteroom.

The apartment on the right is the private home of the nasi, and on the left is a small shul the Chassidim call Gan Eden HaTachton. That’s where people wait for a private audience with the Rebbe. The attic has two rooms separated by a foyer. One is a room for the Rebbe’s hisbodedus (private meditations), and the other room is for receiving people for yechidus. Chassidim call it Gan Eden HaElyon.

(Seifer HaToldos of the Alter Rebbe, Vol. 2, p. 560)


The Rebbe’s Hakafos
The Alter Rebbe customarily did the Hakafos in Gan Eden HaTachton. The Chassidim referred to the Hakafos as Hakafos HaYechidus of the Rebbe. These Hakafos HaYechidus of the Rebbe set a Chassid in a completely different standing. The Chassid, R’ Pinchas Reizes, said, “I remember the first time I merited to be present at these Hakafos, which wrought in me a great revolution. I became a different man. That is when I had a true picture, for the first time, of how a Jew felt in the Beis HaMikdash when he was oleh regel and saw the revelation of the Divine presence in the Beis HaMikdash.”

Each limb of a person enjoys a special pleasure according to the quality of that limb. The head enjoys intelligence, the eyes – sight, the ear – hearing, the heart – midos, the hand – action, the foot – walking, and thus every limb according to its quality. In truth, though, there is a type of pleasure that all limbs may feel simultaneously, and all senses and all qualities are nullified in it. This kind of pleasure was felt by a Chassid during the Rebbe’s Hakafos HaYechidus.

(Likkutei Dibburim, Vol. 2, p. 502)


Before Entering For Yechidus
This is what the old Chassidim would say, having heard it from the earliest Chassidim: “At the threshold of the beis ha’midrash of our Rebbe we left our natural character traits...and the mezuzos of Gan Eden HaTachton gave us a yearning for love and fear [of Hashem].”

“The elder Chassidim,” said the Rebbe Rashab, “before entering for yechidus, worked on themselves so that they would not do what their natural inclinations yearned for.”

On these birthing stones, the Chassidic congregation was born.



The Rebbe’s Shtender
The Rebbe Rayatz related what the Chassid R’ Yaakov Shimshon told him:

His father, R’ Zalman Yitzchok, prepared him to enter the Rebbe’s room for yechidus for half a year before his wedding (this was in 5585, in the time of the Mitteler Rebbe). R’ Yaakov’s grandfather, the Chassid R’ Nachum Dov Ber, wasn’t satisfied with the preparations his son made for his grandson, and for two months he explained to R’ Yaakov the significance of going to yechidus.

R’ Nachum Dov Ber said to his grandson, R’ Yaakov Shimshon, “To us Chassidim, the Rebbe’s house was the heichal ha’Mikdash, and the Rebbe’s room lifnai u’lifnim [inner sanctum]. When we were young men we sat near the Rebbe of Liozna [the Alter Rebbe]. We had a deep abiding respect towards the earth upon which the Rebbe’s house was constructed, and all the more so for Gan Eden HaTachton.”

“After great preparation, deep introspection, and immersion in the mikva, we allowed ourselves from time to time to kiss the lectern upon which the Rebbe davened. If you only saw the awe and holy love with which the gaon and ninety year old Chassid, R’ Yerucham Moshe of Shipetivka, would approach the Rebbe’s lectern, to kiss the place where the Rebbe’s hands leaned during davening, you would understand how holy is the place where the Divine presence rests.”


3-Year Preparations
My grandfather, related R’ Yaakov Shimshon, told me, “We learned from the elder Chassidim that one goes to yechidus only after preparing well for it, and this preparation takes time. There were those whose preparation for yechidus took three years or more.”


7 Years Putting it into practice
In another place it is told that the Chassid R’ Moshe Vilenker prepared himself for three years before entering for yechidus to the Alter Rebbe. Then he remained for another seven years in Liozna in order to actualize his yechidus within his avoda.

(HaYom Yom 18 Tammuz)


A New Creation
R’ Nachum Dov Ber told his grandson, “After preparing well for their first yechidus, there were those who, while standing on the threshold of Gan Eden HaElyon before entering the Rebbe’s room, gained an appreciation for the special delight in a G-dly concept. Their natural consciousness was refined, and seeing the Rebbe’s Holy of Holies opened a channel from the neshama to the ruach and nefesh. During yechidus, the Rebbe would identify where the nefesh and ruach needed correction. The Rebbe would then enliven them with the light of the neshama.

“They would leave their yechidus with the Rebbe as a new creation with a healthy G-dly soul, a happy and fortified yetzer tov, a natural soul that was broken apart, and a yetzer ha’ra that was crushed.”

(Seifer HaToldos of the Rebbe Rayatz, Vol. 2, p. 221)


The Order of the Day
On the night before going to yechidus, a Chassid would read Krias Shma Al HaMita with a cheshbon nefesh (soul-searching), and then he would rise for Tikkun Chatzos. He would feel the destruction of the Mikdash and the exile of the Divine presence personally. [He felt the exile of] his personal sanctuary, about which it says, “And they shall make for Me a Mikdash and I will dwell within them.” He felt how his personal Beis HaMikdash is in ruins, how Hashem gave him a G-dly soul, and that soul is in exile. He would say Tikkun Chatzos with true bitterness with these thoughts in mind, crying with an inner bitterness from the depths of his heart. Then he would study Torah, immerse in a mikva, learn the regular Chassidus shiur before davening, daven with his head and his heart, and ask Hashem to help him repent. He would fast the next day and learn Torah.

(Igros Kodesh Rebbe Rayatz, Vol. 3, p. 165)


Good and Just
R’ Hillel of Paritch said: For the four months that I prepared myself to enter the Mitteler Rebbe’s room for yechidus, I worked on my body so that it would be on the level of tov [good] and not merely on the level of tzedek [righteousness], so that it would be good and not just correct.

...One of the “sitters” (young men who stayed in Lubavitch to learn Torah), Moshe Dovid of Abtzuha, was extremely moved by what R’ Hillel said. He cried copiously and said, “Now I know why the two times I went to yechidus did not help me, for in order to enter for yechidus one needs preparation in actual avoda. Without that the yechidus doesn’t help.”

(Likkutei Dibburim, Vol. 3, p. 1,040)



Why We Dance After Coming Out From Yechidus

The Chassid, maskil and oveid, R’ Avrohom Dov Ber, the son of R’ Yirmiya of Bobroisk, related (in HaTamim):

“When I was six years old in 5592 (1832), before I was brought to cheider, my father took me to Lubavitch for Shavuos. From Lag B’Omer and on, [the Chassidim] began preparing for the trip. Knowing that my father would take me to cheider at this time, and then take me with him and all the Chassidim to Lubavitch, I was very excited and happy. I will never forget that trip and the impression it engraved in my heart.”

Indeed, R’ Avrohom Dov Ber tells at length and in full emotional detail, the wonderful trip the Chassidim at that time made to Lubavitch, and, of course, going to the Rebbe for yechidus:

I remember how I went to the Rebbe with my father...The room in which the Rebbe sat was large. Near the walls stood piles of books. The Rebbe sat near a large desk, which had some volumes of books on it, as well as papers, boxes, and boxes of coins, and two lit candles.

Upon entering the Rebbe’s room, the Rebbe was reading a seifer opened before him. When Father approached the Rebbe, the Rebbe looked up and gazed at Father and at me. Father was shaking, and I also began to shake and cry quietly. The Rebbe reached out to take the note from Father, because in his great fear, Father had remained in his place without knowing what to do.

Father stood mute, his head bent, and tears flowed from his eyes to the floor. He controlled himself for the first few moments, but after a while he burst into loud crying and wailing. Seeing Father cry, my heart was pained and I cried silently, while looking at the Rebbe’s holy visage.

For some time, the Rebbe read the note my father had given him. While reading it twice and three times, the Rebbe looked at Father and at me, and then he spoke to Father. When the Rebbe began speaking to Father, he stopped crying, and his lips moved as he silently repeated what the Rebbe told him.

The Rebbe spoke at length to Father. Then Father asked the Rebbe some questions, and the Rebbe answered him. When he finished speaking, Father said, “I will be, G-d willing, taking my son to cheider, and I request that the Rebbe bless him.” He moved me towards the Rebbe.

For a moment the Rebbe thought and closed his holy eyes, and after a few moments he opened his eyes and looked at me and said, “Be diligent and don’t be idle, and Hashem will help you become a lamdan and a Chassid.

Amen,” answered Father out loud, and I did the same.

After the yechidus, Father took me in his arms and went out dancing with the Chassidim, for all those who merited to see the Rebbe for a yechidus left dancing… Two questions bothered me and gave me no rest: 1) why was going to the Rebbe called yechidus? and 2) why did Chassidim dance when they left the Rebbe’s room?

When I saw that Father was in a good mood, I asked him these two questions. Father asked me if I knew what the Mishkan, which Moshe made upon Hashem’s command, looked like. This Mishkan had a special place for the aron, which held the luchos, and once a year on Yom Kippur, Aharon the Kohen Gadol would enter with incense and pray on behalf of the Jewish people.

I wanted to display my knowledge to Father. I quickly told him everything I knew about the Temple Shlomo HaMelech built, about the Holy of Holies, the aron and luchos, and the service of the Kohen Gadol on Yom Kippur in general, and his entering lifnai v’lifnim in particular.

“Who entered with the High Priest to the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur?” asked Father. “The Kohen Gadol was alone,” I answered. “What did the Kohen Gadol do when he finished the service of the holy day of Yom Kippur?” asked Father. “Our teacher, R’ Elimelech, told us that when the Kohen Gadol finished his service in the Beis HaMikdash he went home with all the Jewish people following behind him singing. They all rejoiced, for their sins were forgiven.”

“And now,” asked Father, “do we have a Beis HaMikdash and a Holy of Holies?” “ Now,” I answered with a sigh, “we have no Beis HaMikdash or Holy of Holies,” and my eyes were raised towards Father, while I wondered what he would tell me.

Before I could even swallow, a group of men entered the shul singing and dancing, and Father joined them. The things Father had said to me about the Beis HaMikdash, the Holy of Holies, and the aron, and his final question as to whether we now have a Beis HaMikdash and Holy of Holies, left me sad and dispirited. A new question began to race through my mind: Why are they happy? After all, the Beis HaMikdash is destroyed, and in the place of the Holy of Holies, the goats prance?

After the dancing and after davening Mincha, I turned to Father and asked him, “Do we also have the Beis HaMikdash and the Holy of Holies now? We do not have the Beis HaMikdash and the Holy of Holies. So why are you rejoicing and dancing when the Beis HaMikdash is destroyed?”

When Father heard my question, he answered, “You are right my son, you are right. The Beis HaMikdash in Yerushalayim has been destroyed, and when the Jewish people repent, Hashem will send us Moshiach Tzidkeinu, the righteous redeemer. He will gather us from the four corners of the earth and take us, together with our homes, to Eretz Yisroel, and he will build Yerushalayim and the Beis HaMikdash. But now, we do not have a Beis HaMikdash or the Holy of Holies.

“However,” continued Father, “from the day the Beis HaMikdash and the Holy of Holies was destroyed until Hashem has mercy and sends us the righteous redeemer who will gather us from the four corners of the earth and lead us to Eretz Yisroel and build Yerushalayim and the Beis HaMikdash and the Holy of Holies — Lubavitch is our Yerushalayim. And the shul where the Rebbe davens is our Beis HaMikdash. And the room where the Rebbe sits is our Holy of Holies. And the Rebbe is the aron, which contains our luchos Toras Hashem.”

Father’s expression and seriousness made an awesome impression on me, and I thought: We were just in the Holy of Holies and now we are in the Beis HaMikdash. How incredible! I was still thinking about the Beis HaMikdash when I heard Father ask me, “Did you know my son, that when Moshe brought the aron with the luchos to the Kodesh HaKadashim, he heard the voice of Hashem speaking from between the two kruvim?”

“Yes,” I answered Father. “I heard Mother read it from a book and tell Aunt.” “These are the things,” Father continued, “which the Rebbe says to every one of his Chassidim. They are the words of Hashem, and just as the Kohen Gadol entered the Holy of Holies alone, so too whoever enters the Rebbe’s room, enters alone, which is why it is called yechidus.”

“Just as when the Kohen Gadol left the Holy of Holies, he and all the Jewish people rejoiced, so too we Chassidim, when we leave our Holy of Holies, we rejoice over the great kindness Hashem did for us, in granting us the privilege of being in the Holy of Holies and to hear the Rebbe’s blessing.”

Father concluded by saying, “Remember well the words of the blessing with which the Rebbe blessed you.”



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